Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Uncle Tom’s Trail, Upper Falls Viewpoint, Lower Falls, wildlife.
Uncle Tom’s Trail is about .60 miles roundtrip from the parking lot. The Upper Falls Viewpoint trail (see Trail Map below) which curves around and meets up with Uncle Tom’s Trail is about .31 miles.
Not allowed on trails or boardwalks.
Park Entrance Fee
Bring 1 liter of water. You will get an incredible view of the Lower Falls and Yellowstone River.
Spring, Summer, Fall
Open year round. Stairs would be extremely slippery in the winter months
Lots of tree cover.
Trail is very well marked. From the parking lot, the trail is on a paved path until you come to Uncle Tom’s Trail which is basically metal scaffolding. It is not wheelchair accessible to the bottom of Uncle Tom’s Trail.
At parking lot area.
There is a few buildings at Uncle Tom’s Point but not a designated Visitor Center.
By permit and in designated camping spots only.
Good hiking shoes. Bag to carry water and snacks. Camera.
Uncle Tom’s Point: 44.715099°, -110.495944°
Upper Falls Viewpoint: 44.714730°, -110.497118°
Uncle Tom’s Trail: 44.716369°, -110.495060°
Lower Falls Viewpoint: 44.717522°, -110.494451°
PLEASE NOTE! Winter visits to the canyon area are only available by guided snow coach, or guided snowmobile trips. Uncle Tom’s is closed in the winter and subject to closures in the spring due to ice and snow.
The trail starts off at Uncle Tom’s Point. from the parking lot you can either see the Upper Falls Viewpoint, head to Uncle Tom’s Trail or do both! We did both and it only added about 10 extra minutes. Uncle Tom’s Point was the old location of many cabins for visitors until the lodge was built at the Canyon Village nearby.
Upper Falls Viewpoint
From the parking lot the Upper Falls Viewpoint is about a 2 minute walk. Just follow the signs and you will be lead straight there.
Upper Falls Viewpoint. Still incredible to see even from a distance.
Uncle Tom’s Trail
Please note that you will be walking on perforated steel so good sturdy shoes are a must!
Uncle Tom’s Trail was created back in 1898 by a man named Uncle Tom Richardson. He guided guests down his trail of wooden ladders and ropes to the Lower Falls.
Uncle Tom’s Trail is a steel stairway that features more than 300 steps and the entire hike will drop about 500 feet. It is VERY steep but there are handrails and benches along the way. It is important that if you have any heart or other health problems that you make a wise judgment call so you are able to do this hike without injuring yourself. Just take your time, rest often, drink lots of water and you will be fine. Here is a view of the stairs from the opposite side of the canyon.
We did this hike on a rainy day which made the perforated steel somewhat slippery. I found myself holding on to the railings with both hands as I was going down and I wasn’t surprised to see the bulk of other hikers doing the same thing. Very Steep steel stairs. You may think it is easy to go down but remember you will be coming back up the same way and it is very tiring! If you rest and take your time as you go back up you won’t have any problems.
You will see the mist from the falls well before they come into view.
There is a small waterfall that passes below your feet on its long journey to the river far below. You can see this better in the video.
Time to go back up. Here is a good look at the staircase structure from underneath.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is an incredible site to see. I was just as amazed with Lower Falls as I was with the canyon. In the picture below you can see Red Rock Point on the opposite side of the canyon, just to the right of the waterfall. This is another great hike.
Head back towards the parking lot. Remember to take your time. The climb back up is very steep and you will get tired.
I enjoyed this hike because it offered amazing views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and of Lower Falls. When we did this hike on a rainy day there were still lots of people climbing up and down the staircase. After our hike and on our way to Canyon Village, we stopped along the other vantage points to see Upper and Lower Falls. I recommend doing this if you want a very casual experience in seeing the area.